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Locke: Inactive voters to be canceled, not purged

Cary Ashby • Jul 26, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The Huron County Board of Elections won’t cancel inactive voters until 2022.

That’s the biggest message that director Sharon Locke had for the county commissioners Tuesday when she explained the June 11 ruling by the Supreme Court. 

“The people who have been inactive will be canceled — who haven’t voted in a federal election in at least four years,” Locke said, emphasizing it impacts voters “who haven’t had any activity.”

With Judge Samuel Alito writing for the court, five justices ruled on June 11 that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office wasn’t violating federal law by removing voters from the rolls who hadn’t cast a ballot over multiple elections. These same people also hadn’t responded to repeated mailings to their address seeking affirmation they wished to remain registered. The (Canton) Repository reported the overall time frame was six years.

Locke told the commissioners to expect to “have a lot of people canceled in 2022” because they haven’t been active for eight years.

“They will be getting notices. Then if they don’t respond to notices or have any activity, they will be canceled,” she said. “If they send this notice back, they are good to go.”

To be considered active voters, residents can do one of three things: Sign a petition, vote or update their registration.

“Just some sort of voter activity,” Locke said.

The major party candidates for the secretary of state in the Nov. 6 election have weighed in on the Supreme Court’s decision.

“By working with the bi-partisan county boards of election, we can balance the responsibility to maintain accurate voter rolls while still being fair to all voters,” Republican Frank LaRose told The Repository.

Democrat Kathleen Clyde said she “will end this policy of overly aggressive and unnecessary voter purging.”

“While the U.S. Supreme Court declared in a split decision that Ohio’s aggressive voter purging doesn’t conflict with federal law, the choice to continue is one that is left to the states,” she added.

Locke said Tuesday that in Huron County, the process in addressing inactive voters isn’t purging. 

“We cancel; we do not purge. They call it purging in the news. We do not purge; we cancel. Their record is always here, but it’s a canceled record,” she said. “It cleans up the databases.”

The local board of elections is preparing to send notices to 2,100 people who haven’t had any voting activity since March 2016. 

“That’s about average,” Locke said, when asked about the number. “Because if we had been allowed to do the process last year, we would have had about a thousand this year and another thousand (later). Usually we do it every year.”

The cancelations have happened previously, but the board of elections director said “when they filed the court case, we couldn’t do it anymore.” Locke said the process shouldn’t create any more work than usual for this time of year.

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